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Director Of Public Prosecutions

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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asked the Attorney-General, when he expects next to meet the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Will the Attorney-General discuss, with the Director of Public Prosecutions, whether there is any time limits on the immunities granted to traitors such as Anthony Blunt and Ian Smith? In view of the fact that many law-abiding people in this country and elsewhere would be deeply offended if the likes of Ian Smith were allowed immunity from prosecution for the rest of their life, will the Attorney-General confirm the possibility of his being arrested and prosecuted for treasonable activities?

I can give no such confirmation. That is a matter for my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. I had hoped that it was made clear during the debate on the Blunt affair that, when a confession is obtained as a result of immunity being granted, that confession remains inadmissible against that person for all time. If there was no other evidence it would be quite impossible to prosecute.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend again discuss with the Director of Public Prosecutions the delays in our courts and the advantages which would be gained in speeding up the criminal process if, in summary trials, the prosecution was obliged to serve on the defence a copy of its evidence?

My hon. Friend knows that I am sympathetic to that course of action. It is a matter on which we are continuing our discussions. I hope to be able to reach some decision quite soon.

Will the Attorney-General congratulate the Director of Public Prosecutions on sending a full-time official from his Department to assist in the Operation Countryman inquiry to ensure that there is no undue delay in evaluating the legal consequences of the results? Will he also raise with the Director the question why the headquarters of the inquiry have changed from Camber well to Godalming, in view of the disquieting press reports that security involving some police officers could not be guaranteed in the London area?

What amounts to lending an official from the office of the Director, to the Countryman inquiry was, I think, very sensible. I shall happily pass on the comments of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I hope that he made his second comment without having read the full statement by the assistant chief constable, Mr. Burt, who asserted in the clearest terms that suggestions that the Countryman investigations had been obstructed were completely without truth. That is what he said yesterday and it is in most newspapers today. I am satisfied that Mr. Burt is right about that.